Mental health

Botox update

Forehead frown lines
Botox Cosmetic

Around 5 weeks ago, I blogged about deciding to get Botox injections in my forehead to hopefully help in the management of my depression.  I got the first injections at that time, and then got round two a couple of weeks later, for a total dose of 29 units, which was the amount used in the research studies that showed that Botox can have a beneficial effect on depressive symptoms.

The Botox was injected into the frown line areas, and the idea is to block the feedback loop of frowning reinforcing negative mood.  For anyone who’s curious, botulinum toxin comes from the Clostridium botulinum bacteria and acts at the neuromuscular junction to cause muscle paralysis.  Besides cosmetic use, it’s used for a number of different muscular disorders, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), and the in the prevention of migraine headaches.  Effects are expected to last 3-4 months, although in the studies for depression the beneficial effect was found to last even longer.

It takes about 2 days to start noticing the effects of Botox injections, and 2 weeks to get the full effect.  I would describe the feeling as numb but not numb.  It feels numb much the same way as if your mouth was numb after going to the dentist and you couldn’t move the area.  When I try to move the muscles in my forehead, I get that same sort of numb feeling.  It’s not numb to sensory input, though, so I still feel touch, pressure, temperature, and other sensations.

What I’ve really noticed is how often I was frowning before.  Because I get that numb sort of feeling when I try to move my forehead, I notice when my face is trying to frown. And it happens often, far more often than I would have guessed.  In terms of outward appearance, when I try frown there are some little crinkles visible above the outer half of each eyebrow, but that’s it.  When I raise my eyebrows in a surprised sort of expression, there’s limited movement, but one eyebrow raises more than the other one, a fun little quirk that my naturopathic doctors said she could fix but I actually kind of like.

So, is it helping with my mood?  I’ll say a cautious maybe.  I’m still having bad days and I have no resilience when it comes to situational stressors, but looking at my mood tracking app there has been a bit of an improvement over the last couple of weeks.  It’s always hard to know what’s causing what, and there are probably other things that are helping, like the approach of spring probably and some more positive interpersonal interactions.

I’ll probably never really know for sure what effect if any the Botox is having, but I do like the idea that it’s getting in the way all the frowning I was apparently doing before.  And at this point, I’m willing to do pretty much anything, even if it’s only having a small impact.



book cover: Managing the Depression Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together by Ashley L. Peterson


My new book, Managing the Depression Puzzle takes a holistic, everything up to and including the kitchen sink look at how to put together the pieces of your unique depression puzzle. It’s available on Amazon and other online retailers, as well as the MH@H Store.


31 thoughts on “Botox update”

  1. Hello Ashley. My name is Abhijith Padmakumar and I am a motivational blogger. Your blog is really awesome and I loved it 😊. If you are ok, can I do guest posts in your blog? Please do let me know about your thoughts. Waiting for your reply.

    1. Hi Abhijith. Thanks! Because the purpose of my blog is for my own self-expression I’ve decided not to have guest posts. Thanks for the offer though 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing an update. I have been curious about the research done on the use of botox for migraines (because I get at least 3 a week and the medication for them worsens other conditions) but I don’t know if I’m brave enough to take the plunge (I have an irrational fear that the worst will happen to me). Your post is reassuring though and I love that you’ve found an endearing quirk to take from the whole experience. And less frowning is always good, regardless of whether or not you can concretely say it is helping your mood.

  3. I had only just recently heard of the use of Botox for depression. I can kind of understand the concept behind it working. I remember when I was in DBT therapy there being what seemed like a silly coping tool called “Half Smile”. The idea was that forcing a smile can help lift the mood a bit. I don’t remember the more scientific reasoning behind it. At the time I disliked most of DBT, but as years pass it has grown on me.

    I recently wrote a post called “Happiness is the cheapest facelift”. It talked about how depression and frustration/anger from my bipolar caused a deep vertical wrinkle between my eyebrows. It shows less when I’m happy and don’t squint as much. A friend recommended Botox since it does still show after years of frowning/squinting. I’ll admit that I just elected to get bangs cut to hide it.

    1. Yeah, I was never that keen on the half-smile idea, as it just felt forced and fake. The Botox is still fake, i guess, but somehow it still feels better than trying to pretend I’m happy.

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience. I had no idea botox was used for depression. I always look angry because of the deep “11’s” between my eyes. I’ve considered botox but I am concerned about side effects. Please keep us updated on how it does for you.

  5. Interesting that you now have an awareness of how often you frown! Great if the botox has helped, also great if it’s other factors like spring approaching or positive interactions. I think when we feel so low we will try anything, so it’s nice that something is helping x

  6. I know what you meaning about the realization of frowning… I have a sore jaw joint that started when I started the current antidepressant. (I think I much of over yawned.) I now notice how often I clench my jaw…quite frequently! I think I frown a lot too. I was always being told of as a child for frowning and squinting.
    The botox info you have shared is very interesting and I’m pleased for you that you have found some benefit 🙂

  7. Oh wow… that is interesting Ashley. I’ve noticed a bit of an upbeat pep in your blog recently. I think you have been proactive in helping your moods with your self-care and journaling. You are my go-to lately when I need some artificial hope for happiness. I’ve been witness to you going through and coming out of depression, to an extent, and it reminds me, I’ll see better days. Thanks for posting your highlights.

  8. I don’t think I could do this, but I probably frown a lot too. People are always asking why I look worried, even when I’m not. According to my parents, when I was a child I used to frown in my sleep, even though that was supposedly before my depression started…

  9. My favorite Ted Talks is called, “How Body Language Shapes Who You Are”, by Amy Cuddy. It’s one woman’s fascinating personal story which propelled her to research and find the science which supports that if we change our bodies first, brain chemistry follows. I guarantee it’s relevant here and worth the twenty minutes!

  10. Very interesting blog. I haven’t looked into botox treating depression before this post so thank you for posting this. Im not sure how the mechanism of botox would specifically treat depression but then again depression can be triggered by a range of events and not necessarily treated effectively in every patient with our current medication. I have seen a few patients who turn to injectables such as botox to help with their confidence, and thus maybe helps with their mental health over all. If you look good you feel good sort of notion.
    A research paper I found that was a carried out by Zamanian et al 2017 showed some possible statistical significance by the 6th week. However, it was carried out from a very small sample group and certainly needs repeating.
    Nonetheless, encouraging, wish you the best of the luck and keep us updated!

Leave a Reply